My Lightweight Lighting Essentials Kit

This lighting kit contains all the essentials to create the 3 basic lighting styles I teach in my workshops: Large Window, Medium Diffused, and Crisp & Direct. With this setup and a little education, you can create amazing lighting in any situation, indoors or out. The kit uses speedlights exclusively, as they are super portable, powerful, and extremely versatile. Optionally, you can use 2 speedlights behind some of the modifiers to double your light output. 

Note: this page will be updated as I find newer and more betterer options ;-)

This is the full Kit. See below for details on each item.

This is the full Kit. See below for details on each item.

My Lighting Notebook. Knowledge is king! 101 lighting setups shown and explained so you know exactly how to use all this stuff.

 

Westcott Scrim Jim 4’x6’ kit on B&H. Perfect window light anywhere. Fire your speedlights through it or diffuse the sun. 

 

Westcott LunaGrip 5-in-1 Kit: Designed by Kevin Kubota. This is my main tool for the most useful lighting style, medium diffused. Comes with collapsible 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser. Similar to a 40" soft box, but easier to pack, faster to setup, better in the wind, and more versatile. Use also as a perfect flat reflector holder with the silver/white cover. I use two of these – one as a main light, and the other with reflector for fill.

Rogue Grid for speedlights. Give your speedlight a soft spot light for dramatic lighting and controlled beam spread.

 

Gorillapod Focus for holding speedlights and attaching them to just about anything or anyone.

Cullman CB 2.7 mini ballhead for attaching your flash to the Gorillapod, or a lightstand

Sticky Filters for Flash. Instantly gel your flash for color balancing or groovy effects.

Singh-Ray 77mm (Thin Mount) Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter. These are optional, but really cool for creating some dramatic lighting effects outside with flash. When you want to combine flash with sun, these are more efficient than using high-speed sync on your speedlight.

Westcott Light Stands Simple, basic, affordable. With some simple clamps, two of these will hold your Scrim Jim straight up. You can get dedicated clamps for the scrim if you anticipate holding the frame up at different angles. 

 

Kupo tilting adapter for attaching your LunaGrip to a light stand or handle. Technically, you could attach it without the tilt adapter, but then you have less flexibility for positioning. 

Lastolite Extending Handle. A handle is much more mobile than a light stand, assuming you have a handy assistant to hold it. I love using a handle because it enables me to move around more, perfecting my light, and getting a wider variety of images in a shorter amount of time. 

Yongnuo Nikon starter 2-pack (includes on-camera controller and one flash transceiver): 

2-pack Nikon additional transceivers for extra flash units: 

 

For Canon, order below models. Not sure why B&H doesn’t have the Canon starter set same as Nikon. 

Yongnuo Canon on-camera controller (need one of these and also transceivers below for each flash): 

Nikon SB910 Speedlights These are my favorites so far. There is a new Nikon SB5000 that I haven't tried yet. These lights have much more power than any of the generic brands.

 

Optional, but will come in handy eventually:

Triple Flash holder for combining speedlights to increase output or decrease recycle times.

Bolt battery pack for speedlights give 1400 full-power flashes with 1-second recycle time! Pow! I love this pack because it's very compact and light. Make sure to order the appropriate cable for your brand and model flash. Nikon cable here. Canon Cable here. You can even charge your phone or tablet with this and the USB adapter cable.

Ever heard of a Priolite? See how we used it to light a fantasy warrior princess

Ever heard of a Priolite? See how we used it to light a fantasy warrior princess

The Priolite is a new studio light from Germany. The cool thing about it is that it has a built-in removable internal battery so it can be used wirelessly just about anywhere. It's powerful, accurate, and easy to control and adjust. Could this be your all-in-one studio and location light? Read on to find out...

We just finished a shoot for a new educational video, produced by Wiley for their brand spanking new website, DigitalClassroom.com. My commercial lighting video will be released in September and covers our 3-day adventure of lighting in the studio and on location in a secret elvin forest ;-) You won't want to miss it!

Until then, here's a sneak peak in to some of the things we did, including putting the Priolite MBX500 to the test with a couple of our models in the studio. The Priolite kit that I got included 2 lights, stands, an umbrella, wireless remote, and a soft box with optional grid attachment. You can run the lights via the battery alone for quite a while, or plug in the charger to keep it running all day while in the studio. It really is nice to eliminate your wires completely – without fear of tripping yourself or your clients while sending the lights crashing to the ground. The feeling of freedom is liberating, like going "commando" in the summer time.

 

Read More

The D.I.Y. panel diffuser for photographers

If you want a cheap, effective lighting diffuser, here's a way to make one for about $20. I love my panel diffuser/reflectors and own several of them. Of course, it's nice to buy the ready made systems, like the LitePanels from Photoflex – of which I own several as well. These systems have dedicated accessories and are a bit easier to setup and takedown, as well as look more professional. However, sometimes you just need cheap and effective! 

My KevPanel D.I.Y. light diffuser in use. Putting it horizontal makes for a great single-light portrait. See the video for more info and the resulting shot.

My KevPanel D.I.Y. light diffuser in use. Putting it horizontal makes for a great single-light portrait. See the video for more info and the resulting shot.

We started making our own panel diffusers when I had a big project to photograph 200 families in one afternoon at a local park. It's a annual charity project that we started over 10 years ago and we enlist the help of local photographers to make it happen. I wanted each photographer to have a diffuser to improve and make the lighting more consistent. Few of them owned one, so we just decided to build some since we couldn't afford to buy them for everyone. 

This "KevPanel" collapses down to fit in a light stand bag and snaps back together in seconds.  You can use it in the studio or on location as it's easily transportable. The lighting quality is amazing and it's very versatile.

The following video shows you everything you need to know to make one, where to shop, what to buy, how to put it all together. I hope it's helpful to you too! I'll post some tips in the future on different ways you can use it for your photographic lighting. 

Do you have any cool D.I.Y. photo tips? Share them here and we'll love you!